Catalans Dragons back rower Joel Tomkins has been suspended for eight matches after being found guilty of poking opponent Richie Myler’s backside.
Tomkins was handed the ban and a £500 fine for “other contrary behaviour” following a disciplinary hearing on Tuesday evening.
The incident occurred in the second half of the Dragons’ 26-14 win over the Rhinos after Myler was tackled by Tomkins and team-mate Israel Folau.
It prompted an immediate reaction from Myler, although he did not make a formal complaint at the time and it was not placed on report by referee Chris Kendall.
But television cameras had caught the moment clearly, sparking a significant reaction on social media.
The incident also raised comparisons to former Australian international John Hopoate.
In 2001, Hopoate was banned for 12 matches for unsportsmanlike conduct after poking his finger up the backsides of three North Queensland Cowboy players during one match. Hopoate then resigned from his contract at Wests Tigers.
It is also not the first time a Super League player has been banned under the “other contrary behaviour” charge this season.
St Helens winger Tommy Makinson and Warrington’s Tom Lineham were suspended for five and eight matches respectively for grabbing the testicles of opposing players.
Earlier in the evening Tomkins’ Catalans team-mate Micky McIlorum was also banned for a total of six games.
McIlorum had already been suspended for one match for a high tackle on Leeds hooker Brad Dwyer shortly before the Tomkins incident.
He challenged the grading of that verdict, but it was upheld and the ban was increased to two.
He was then handed a further four games for his reaction to that tackle – when he dragged Dwyer up off the floor seconds later.
It leaves Dragons coach Steve McNamara without two of his most experienced players ahead of Friday’s Super League semi-final at St Helens.
McNamara would not be drawn on the two incidents when speaking ahead of the hearings earlier in the day, and insisted it was not affecting his squad’s preparation.
McNamara said: “We’re really clear in terms of what we want to do – it’s a slight distraction in that we’ve got to deal with it tonight, but that’s all it is.”
Catalans are bidding to reach the November 27 Grand Final at Hull for the first time in their history.